Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Portuguese Inquisition and Revisionism

Due to my interest in Konkani Temples in Goa, I have been researching books on the Portuguese occupation in Goa. During the Portuguese Inquisition lasting more than 150 years (1560 - 1812), the Jesuits made a systematic attempt at wiping out the Konkani heritage in Goa. Konkanis were either tortured and killed, forced to convert, or give up their lands and migrate. And all our temples in the older Goa were destroyed. It was many other men-of-the-cloth, particularly Anglicans who spread the horrors of the Inquisition, and put political pressure on the Portuguese forcing it to end the Inquisition.

I have tracked scores of such books from the 18th and 19th century which shed a grim light on the atrocities of the Portuguese. In the midst of an enormous amount of historical literature, there are always the revisionists, trying to cast a softer glow on the Portuguese Inquisition. This one by an ordained priest takes the cake.

A few lines from his work and my related comments.
An Historical Sketch of Goa, Rev. Denis L. Cottineau de Kloguen (DK)
Gazette Press, Madras (1831), Reprinted pp 44-45
Also available digitized from the Library at Harvard College, Cambridge, MA; Pg 69 – 70.

Original text in italics is contiguous in one paragraph; my comments are in regular text.

Background: In this particular paragraph, Denis de Kloguen is trying to defend the Archbishop D Alexins de Menezes.
DK - … Some acts of violence by the Portuguese agents may have been committed, both before and after him, but they are not to be imputed to him.
AS - Really! Everyone else is to blame, but not the Archbishop.

DK - It is equally false, that, followed by the officers of the Inquisition, he went armed with fire and sword, to compel the inhabitants of Salsette to embrace the Christian religion. The Jesuits converted a great part of them by the usual and most laudable means;
AS - Reminded me of the recent controversial remarks by Pope Benedict 16th: (from the NY Times) "... in Brazil, ... native populations had been “silently longing” for the Christian faith brought to South America by colonizers." The Rev is probably alluding to such an "innate longing" for torture and death.

DK - but in order as they thought, the better to detach the remainder of the inhabitants from worship of idols, they destroyed all the temples and pagodas.
AS - Much to the embarrassment of the Jesuits, many forced converts continued to visit temples and kept to their traditional Hindu ways. The only way to prevent this was to destroy the temples. How many is “all”?

DK - This however, had the contrary effect; and the Pagans, exasperated at this circumstance, rose up in arms, murdered five jesuits, and several Portuguese.
AS - Did the Jesuits really expect anything else? Note the choice of the word “murdered” when associated with the Jesuits and the Portuguese. BTW, when “all temples and pagodas” were destroyed, how many of the locals were killed? Smoothly overlooked.

DK - The Governor then felt himself obliged to use arms likewise to reduce the rebels; and of course did not after wards permit the temples to be rebuilt.
AS - “reduce the rebels” here is an euphemism for “massacring the population”! And since when did the locals become the “rebels” in their own lands?

DK - But in all this, the Archbishop had nothing to do, and what is certainly better proved, are the good works and the pious establishments of Goa, of which he is the founder.
AS - Surprised he has not been nominated to be made a Saint!

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